Just when I thought I’d seen almost every possible permutation of the alphabet book, along comes this stunning interpretation by Oliver Jeffers. As the title suggests, the 26 (very) short stories are each inspired by a letter of the alphabet, and arranged accordingly.
But lest you think that this may limit the stories in terms of scope or originality, or cause the book to be disjointed, on the contrary, it begins, flows and ends beautifully, and is possibly the author’s best work — both in terms of writing and illustration — yet.
Like a cool picturebook version of an art-house flick, the book sparkles and surprises with its wry, almost-dark humour and enigmatic, quirky characters that make you wish you could stay with them a little longer than the brief screen-time (or page count) allocated to them. Some of the characters also cross over quite naturally to other stories, so it’s believable that they all exist in the same kooky universe.
The stories are all wonderful, but if we had to choose, our favourite would be that for the letter O (it’s probably not a coincidence that the author’s name begins with O, too!) — I would totally love to see an octopus-and-owl spinoff!